Brandon Knapp celebrates his game-winning goal Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of St. John’s)
QUEENS, N.Y. – After defeating Princeton University in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night, the St. John’s University men will take a quick trip across the country to face top-seeded Oregon State on Sunday evening in Corvallis, Ore. Kick-off is set for 9 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Insider.
The Red Storm used a 43rd-minute goal from Brandon Knapp on Thursday night to pick up its seventh one-goal victory of the season and advance to the second round. 2021 marks the program’s 22nd NCAA Tournament berth in the last 30 seasons under Dr. David Masur, the fifth-winningest active head coach in Division I. St. John’s has now won at least one game in 14 of its 22 NCAA Tournament appearances. A win on Sunday would advance the Red Storm to the round of 16 for the second time in the last three seasons and the 13th time in program history overall. The Johnnies have appeared in four College Cups, highlighted by the 1996 national championship.
Big East Goalkeeper of the Year Luka Gavran picked up his NCAA-leading 12th solo shutout of the season on Thursday, stopping both Princeton shots on goal. In addition to leading the nation in clean sheets, Gavran also boasts the NCAA’s top save percentage (.855) and the third-best goals against average in the country (0.50). His 12 shutouts are tied for third with Guy Hertz (2001) on the program’s single-season record list in that category. Only Neal Kitson (15, 2008) and Jason Landers (13, 2006) have tallied more shutouts in a single season than Gavran. The Red Storm advanced to the College Cup in both 2001 and 2008.
Two other Johnnies earned spots on the All-Big East first team at the conclusion of the regular season. Knapp picked up his third career All-Big East honor after finding spots on the all-conference third team as both a sophomore and junior. In his first year with the Red Storm, Lucas Bartlett also claimed a spot on the league’s top team. It was not the first all-conference honor for Bartlett, a sixth-year player who earned First Team All-Missouri Valley honors at Drake this past spring.
Knapp’s game-winner against the Tigers was his fifth tally of the season. In addition to tying Bartlett for the team lead in scoring, Knapp also leads the squad and ranks second in the Big East with six assists. Of his Knapp’s five goals this season, four have been game-winners. Knapp’s decisive tally against Princeton came off an assist from Atila Ashrafi, who bumped his season-long total in that category to four.
Oregon State claimed the Pac-12 Championship and the no. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament after turning in a regular season effort of 12-2-3. The Beavers did not venture away from the West Coast at all this regular season, but managed to go 3-1-1 against five NCAA Tournament teams during a seven-game non-conference slate. The Beavers only loss of Pac-12 play came on the road at UCLA on Nov. 7.
The Beavers outscored the opposition by a margin of more than 2-to-1 this fall, finding the back of the net 36 times while conceding just 16 goals. Tyrone Mondi leads the team’s offensive production with eight goals and five assists. A well-balanced attack, four other Beavers have found the back of the net at least five times this season.
Junior goalkeeper Adrian Fernandez has played every second between the pipes this season for the Beavers, compiling a 0.91 goals-against average with a .719 save percentage and eight shutouts.
Nine Beavers earned All-Pac-12 honors and the program claimed four major individual awards. Mondi was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, Sofiane Djeffal took home Player of the Year honors, Joran Gerbert claimed Freshman of the Year accolades and Terry Boss was named the league’s top coach.
St. John’s and Oregon State will meet for the first time in the history of the two programs on Sunday night.
The Beavers are the only current member of the Pac-12 that the Red Storm has yet to meet in its history. The Johnnies are 4-2-3 all-time against the other five schools in the league, including 2-0-0 in true road games. St. John’s defeated Cal, 3-2, in Berkeley in 1998 before taking down UCLA, 2-1, in Westwood during the 2004 NCAA Tournament Round of 16.